Summer Road Trip: Day 7

Quiet. Finally. Thank god.

Will is asleep. Lucas is snoring.

I reaped what I sow today.

Few things in life bring me more joy than those moments when a tsunami of silliness overtakes the boys. They laugh and giggle. The silliness escalates. And, they laugh and giggle more.

The silliness reaches escape velocity. At that point it can no longer be stopped or slowed. It must slowly burn itself out as one or both of the boys’ depletes his energy.

I encourage this for some reason.

Like a real tsunami, you never know when a silliness tsunami will hit. The sea of life is still, everyone is listening and having a good time. Then, bam! The wave hits. You look up. The landscape is unalterably changed.

Our day up until that point had been as placid as a small mountain lakes. We got up. Had a nice, southern breakfast Waffle House. We headed west on I-40 from Dickson.

The boys napped. I listened to a few episodes of the StartUp podcast produced by Gimlet. A nice easy drive. I woke the boys up about 15 minutes before Waze predicted we would be at Graceland.

The boys were sweet, happy, and excited to get to Graceland. We talked about Elvis. Will wanted to know if his grave would be there. Yes!

We parked and then bought our tickets. The boys eat shaved ices. Will tried the Tiger Blood flavor, but opted for pineapple. Lucas went with cherry.

We had a few hours to kill before we could tour the mansion so we headed over to see Elvis’ private planes. We then hit a couple of the exhibitions. His Army years. His car and motorcycle collection. His crazy jumpsuits.

The sea of life remained tranquil. Will asked if Elvis fought bad guys in his movies and the Army. The three of us debated the relative merits of his different cars. Lucas opting the “Hound Dog” drag racer. Will and I preferring the Ferrari Dino. Will said he liked the Cadillac emblem. I told him about how my dad only drove Cadillacs.

We headed over to the shuttle bus area to wait for our 4:00 tour. The first hints of restlessness surfaced.

Simulated Tae Kwon Do fights. A little wrestling around in line.

We played the tree game, a new road trip invention. You get points for how long you can stand like a tree. The only movements allowed. Breathing. Blinking. Yawning. The prize for winning: rights to first use the next time the iPad is out.

They could have both passed for real trees. For 9 non-stop minutes, inertia. They didn’t move. I tried to make them laugh with a running commentary about the state of my “trees.” Nothing. I pretended to be a gentle wind. I gave them a weak shove from the side. Nothing.

Silence. Then, the wave crashed.

Lucas whined because he didn’t get an iPad for the tour and had to share mine. He tried to take Will’s headset and iPad as soon as we got on the shuttle. Will started shoving hum back in retaliation. It was a good thing we were in the back row of the shuttle with the other juvie kids that smoke, skip school, and get into skirmishes.

Escape velocity was achieved when Will wandered off as soon as we deboarded the shuttle. The silliness insanity didn’t fizzle out for five hours.

In the interim, they drove me insane.

Will walked through the narrow halls of the mansion like a proud soldier in the North Korean Army. Lucas practiced Tae Know Do in the courtyard between the mansion and racquet ball court building. He also knocked over one of the rope lines keeping overenthusiastic tourists out of the living room. They wrestled on the return shuttle bus waiting line and ride back.

I did get them to stand still for a picture at Elvis’ grave. At the grave, Will told us that he is going to be a famous artist “so that he gets all the flowers on his grave.”

It didn’t get any better after we left Graceland.

At dinner, Lucas immediately disappeared under the table. He ate butter for the bread by the spoonful. Will walked over to the people at the table across from us and stared at their food when it arrived. They were not amused.

When we got to the hotel, Will repeated everything I said as I unpacked the car in the rain. Neither of them would stop climbing on the furniture while we waited to check in. When I tried to get Lucas dressed for bed, he jumped around while singing and dancing to his own acapella version of Ozzy Osborne’s Crazy Train.

A rough late afternoon and evening.

Graceland is worth visiting as a reminder of a bygone era in American society. Elvis was a bigger star than anyone alive today. When he initially bought the house it was 10,266 sq. ft. Over time it grew to 17,552. It looks smaller. By comparison, Eddie Murphy’s house is 30,000 sq. ft. Aaron Spelling’s house was 56,500 sq. ft. It is surrounded by incredibly modest homes. Most are small 1 and 1.5 story Arts and Crafts bungalows. Homes built for the lower rungs of the middle class and the upper rungs of the working class. Elvis’ neighbors could easily have been shop foremen, butchers, teachers, and others folks of modest means.

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